Tag Archives: Audio

DIY Geek: Home Speakers

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Every so often, I like to get my hands dirty. I needed to replace the ceiling speakers in my bedroom and bathroom ceilings. I had been having issues with audio quality in the bathroom, and found the culprit when I removed the old set: oxidized wires. After talking to my audio/video genius friend Brandon, I knew that my amplifier was over-driving the speakers. It was just time to replace things in general.

While removing the old set of speakers, I learned that the person who had originally installed them had somehow crossed the black and red wires. Could this have led to the audio issues we experienced? It’s hard to tell, but I’m glad to see that the speakers themselves are fine. They are still in great shape, and I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with them at this point in time. Anyone have ideas?

I chose to go with some new Polk Audio RC60i’s and the slightly larger RC80i in-ceiling speakers. I’ve heard some excellent things about these particular products, and the reviews were fantastic. The price point was pretty good, as well.

I happen to have some paint left over from the last time the rooms were done. I keep these handy in case I do a project such as this so that I can touch up any messes I make. I admit that I’m definitely not a professional, but I think it looks okay!

These new speakers sound great – they have a deeper, richer sound. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show off their audio quality since I’m not licensed to share anything with you. I’m totally glad that I did this project.

I love doing DIY projects around my house. What things have you done to improve your home?

Community Challenge: Put Words in my Mouth

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It’s community challenge time again! Here’s your chance to put words in my mouth. Download the raw video, open it in your favorite video editor, remix the sucker, then re-upload your video as a response to this video so we can all see the fruits of your labor. Create your own narration cards, create your own product demonstration in the middle, whatever. It’s your chance to play with me! Don’t have me unpaper the same envelope… BE CREATIVE.

What invention have you been waiting for all of your life? Which technology breakthrough (real or imagined) are you going to report on? Put on your thinking cap and fire up the tools you already have. If you can’t edit a MOV video file, you might care to convert it with your favorite video conversion tool – although, I’d be surprised if you creative types had any problems with this.

In order to create this video, I used the Silent Film Director app on my iPhone. The app is fun and simple to use. Slow down or accelerate your video speed to add dramatic atmosphere or make your creation even more hilarious. Choose from three built-in soundtracks, upload music from your iPod or from your computer to add sound to your video. Share what you’ve done instantly with your friends using the app’s built-in share features. You can even choose between six different video styles:

  • 20’s movie
  • 60’s home video (for the Hippie style videos)
  • 70’s home video
  • Black and White
  • Sepia
  • Vintage Sepia

The only limits to your creativity using Silent Film Director is your own imagination. The same holds true for your remix in this Community Challenge! You have the tools at hand – is your imagination and creativity up to the task? Do you dare?


Community Challenge: You Create the Stormtrooper Dialogue

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If you’re complaining that there’s no audio… that’s the whole point to this community challenge; YOU are being asked to provide the soundtrack / dialogue.

Yes, it’s your task to download this video, remix it with your own audio, then upload it as a video response to this one.

You don’t have to use the entire video, mind you – just what you might find interesting or fun to play with. And yes, you’re supposed to have fun with this challenge!

If you’re going for that “stormtrooper voice” sound, might I suggest processing your vocal audio through a high-pass filter and/or eliminate all bass, maximizing mid and treble.

You can email your questions to Ask a Stormtrooper. Perhaps they will be featured in an upcoming video segment.

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Please Call It the iPod Touch

Look, I’m a tolerant man. When Pixie wakes me up and asks for a trip to the little doggy’s room at 3am, I don’t yell at her. If Wicket throws up on my MacBook Pro, I forgive him. Eventually.

But seriously, I am out of forgiveness for people who can’t figure out the name of Apple’s iPod Touch.

According to the Apple press event yesterday, it’s the most popular iPod and the #1 game player in the world. It’s been used for over 1.5 billion game and entertainment downloads. It’s cute. It’s thin. It even has an HD video camera and video editing now.

Yet people still get its name wrong. So let me explain it for you in a nice, simple way. There are even pictures to help you out.

iPod TouchiPod Touch

This is a cool Apple device that you can use to play games, listen to music, and watch videos.

You can even use it with FaceTime and Game Center to connect to friends who have iPods or iPhones.

What you can’t do is call it the iTouch. That is not its name. Please call it the iPod Touch.

I touch.

This is a simple sentence. It’s made up of the pronoun I and the verb touch.

You can also use those words in more complex sentences like "I touch the base whenever I hit a home run," or "When I think about you, I touch myself."

Although on second thought, if you’re touching yourself, just keep that between you and your naughty little hands. The rest of us really don’t need to know.

Eye Touch

Stop that. What the heck is wrong with you? Why would you stick your finger in my eye?

Jeepers. You do have naughty hands, don’t you?

Seriously, dude, eye touching is completely inappropriate.

Now, enough of that. Don’t make me call Wicket. He’ll throw up on your computer.

Are we clear now? The little music/video device is an iPod Touch, not an iTouch.

I won’t be responsible for my actions if you call it an iTouch one more time. In fact, I’ll take suggestions. How should I punish people who call it the iTouch?

How To Optimize Sound Coming From Your Devices

I realized something last night: my iPad doesn’t have a perfect speaker setup. None of my devices do, for that matter. Unless you hold the speaker up against your ear, the sound is being pushed out in a direction other than where you need it to be. This is true of your phone, your iPad, your mp3 player and even your laptop. This frustrated me so much last night that I started looking for solutions online. The problem is that I really found nothing much to help. Therefore, I decided to appeal to Quirky for help.

Speakears! Slightly-concave cups that redirect speaker sound.

If you need a living example as to how this might work, go to bed and place your notebook computer on your tummy. Play a video or audio file. Then, cup each of your hands over your notebook’s speakers so as to bounce the sound waves directly towards your ears. You’ll absolutely hear the difference – and realize it’s not practical to keep your hands there indefinitely.

Now, imagine a product that will act as a pair of cupped hands – to be used atop your notebook computer or with any speaker!

I can envision exactly what needs to be done, but do not have the means to accomplish this goal myself. I can close my eyes and see what I’m thinking of, but I cannot begin to design anything such as this. This is where all of you come in. If you have suggestions or comments about my idea, please post them over on the Quirky page. Also, help spread the word by voting up the idea and share it on your social networks.

Seeking Home Theater Advice

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Kevin called in the other night and wanted advice on setting up a home theater. The friend of his who is trying to set things up is wondering if an Xbox 360 is sufficient as a starting point. He also already owns a 1080p television. Have you ever set up a home theater? What was your experience like?

As far as Blu-Ray players out on the marketplace, for my money it was the PS3. It has fantastic quality. Of all the players out there, I realized I wanted it to be able to do more than one thing. That’s why the PS3 made a fantastic option for me. I don’t own many games for it, but at least I have the ability to use it in that capacity at any point in time.

You could get a regular old component and perhaps spend less money. I think that overall, though, you would be happier using something like the PS3.

One place where people tend to skimp when setting up a home theater is with audio. Amazing video doesn’t do you much good if you have crap sound coming out of cheap speakers. Do your research and save money – but you also will need to spend money to have something good. You want to have crisp, clear sound.

Find the balance within your budget for good audio and good video. Together, these will make for a good experience.

I know that everyone out there has one thing they feel you need to have in that environment. Everyone has their own tips and ideas. Hopefully, the community will chip in and give their best advice.

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DRM and You: How to Break the Cycle

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One person who called in to the live show the other night had some pretty tough questions for me about DRM. He asked my thoughts on the direction of DRM technologies and the perceived war on consumers by media giants… mostly the methods the companies are using to interfere with the fair uses that we enjoy.

It all boils down to a matter of control. A lot of the media produced by the larger companies are what is consumer unfriendly. When you buy an audio file that is licensed for playback only on a certain system, that’s where it’s unfriendly. It tends to happen when a particular service is pulled or cancelled and your music (or video) becomes completely inaccessible… even if you paid for it.

It’s not that I have an issue with something being tied to a certain platform. I don’t mind that. I don’t appreciate DRM in any capacity. It feels too much like being locked in to a particular vendor.

Piracy is going to happen whether or not there is DRM on our media. DRM isn’t deterring anything… it’s making the thieves work harder to find ways around it. DRM is hurting those of us who are honest, and pay for our music, games and movies. Thankfully, I don’t see DRM in its current form being around forever.

If there’s any company out there who is going to destroy DRM, it will be Apple. They’re already well on their way with their iTunes Plus program: pay a fee every month and have the DRM removed from the content. You can play it anywhere you like from then on, without any hassles.

I understand why companies are doing what they’re doing, but I disagree with the way they’re going about it. It’s just not working the way they intended it. Digital reproduction is not going away. The companies either need to get with the program or go away.

If you’re against DRM, then don’t support it. Pay for services that have DRM-free files, such as eMule. I happen to have a coupon for that particular website. Email me for more information if you’re interested.

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Burson Headphone Amp Review

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I am by no means an audiophile. My ears don’t always even work properly. So, when Burson sent along the HA-160 Headamp to review, I knew that this was a job best done by someone like my friend Imei. She has a lot of classical music training in her background. This made her the ideal listening candidate!

There are many times when you may have to use some sort of headphones to listen to your music, watch a video or even play a game. However, you don’t want to lose the quality you’re accustomed to, right? Using this headphone amp is literally like sitting in a concert hall. The sounds are so much crisper and clearer… more separated, even. It’s an amazing difference, even to someone who has ears like mine.

Most headphone amps are built with ICs (integrated circuitry). Listening to an IC based head amp is like trying to listen to a grand concert through a key-hole! The HA-160 has been designed with no ICs within its circuitry. This completely closed unit is ideal for perfect listening experiences.

This, folks, is solid-state done absolutely right.

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iPod on the iPad

Using your iPad as a music device will let you see and touch your music in ways you can’t when using your iPod. The large screen makes it so much easier to view your library, and make changes as needed. You can browse through your entire collection by song, artist, album or genre. You’ll be able to see your collection as full-sized album art. You can flip through them just as if they were physical CDs.

Tap a song to play it and the “now playing” screen shows up. It will show you the album art for the track you’re listening to. Tap on the album art to flip it over, and you will see the track list. A simple touch of your finger can pause your song, shuffle through your playlist, change to a new song and adjust the volume.

It’s really easy to add music to your iPad. Tap a button and head over to the iTunes store to find new tracks to purchase. Or… transfer existing iTunes libraries from other devices by sync’ing them together.

I’ve seen a few people make comments as to how the iPad is “nothing more than a glorified iPod”. When it comes time to listen to your music though, isn’t a “glorified iPod” a GOOD thing?

FaceVsion TouchCam N1

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This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Facevsion. All opinions are 100% mine.

You know it’s time to get a new webcam when people have to squint in order to see you.

Most likely, you’re relying on the webcam that came with your system – if you have a webcam at all. Judging from 90% of what I see on YouTube, many people have yet to upgrade to an experience worth viewing. You might have the fastest CPU on the block, but if your webcam is sub-par by 2001’s standards, then… well, what are you really bragging about?

The FaceVsion TouchCam N1 is one of the only HD USB webcams on the market today. And if “HD” doesn’t mean anything to you right now – think about what it means to the person who has to watch your video. You’d rather be pushing the high-quality envelope, right?

I’m guessing your current video hardware is limping along in the 4:3 aspect ratio – when you’d be hard pressed to find either monitors or televisions that didn’t support 16:9 natively. When it comes to video, “widescreen” is almost always better.

This is the only Skype-certified video camera capable of HD right now. It will allow you to broadcast to a friend or colleague in 720p (yes, that’s HD). Oh, and you don’t have to worry about a manual focus with the TouchCam N1 – thanks to its auto-focusing, wide angle lens. The camera will automatically adjust the picture for you… WITHOUT software.

They didn’t skimp in the audio department, either. With dual mics, you’ll be producing stereo-quality sound in whatever the application of your choosing.

Plus, the dual hinges help make it easy to place in a variety of positions – including comfortably over the back of a monitor or laptop screen.

Go ahead – watch the sample video I recorded with the FaceVsion TouchCam N1. Everything else is just standard.

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